Concert Review: The Church at the Winchester

The Church in an unguarded moment
  • The Church in an unguarded moment

Aussie alt-rockers the Church are so serious about their 30th anniversary acoustic tour, they printed programs that were handed out to fans who came to Saturday night’s Winchester concert.

Playing for more than two hours (with a 15-minute intermission), the band went through its catalog in reverse order, beginning with “Pangaea,” a moody tepid track from last year’s Untitled #23.

The acoustic format meant that some songs had to be rearranged. While “Reptile” didn’t fare well with its jazzy update, and “Unguarded Moment” really needs its shimmering electric guitars to resonate, “Metropolis” and “Under the Milky Way” still sounded sharp, despite the unplugged format.

The Byrds-like “Louisiana” also worked. Frontman Steve Kilbey often gestured pretentiously during the performance and hushed audience members who made the smallest amount of noise, but he did display a good sense of humor, joking about the Raspberries, whom he said wrote songs about “urging some unwilling girl to do something she didn’t want to do.”

Surprisingly, the band started a three-song encore with a cover of the Smashing Pumpkins’ “Disarm” that led into “Space Saviour,” another tune off Untitled #23. The Church concluded with the stirring, 12-string guitar driven “Grind.”

As much as the Church is enamored with the acoustic format (it’s partially a necessity because of the high costs of touring), the studio versions of their songs are so sonically dense, it doesn’t always do them justice.

Still, the near-capacity crowd didn’t seem to mind, and the solid musicianship helped it all hold together. —Jeff Niesel